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dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries.

Recently after the news spread that the Corono Virus should be really called the Chinese virus, right or wrong, many Indians from the North Eastern states who have mongoloid features were subject to abuse in many states within India. When I read this news, I was ashamed of being an Indian but, on reflection felt sad about our education system that does not teach our people about the diversity of our population within the country.

For all practical purposes, India is like Europe rather than any country. It has many ethnic religious, linguistic and cultural groups and also running within each group sub groups, castes etc and unless one has been privileged to visit all the states and interacted with the local people, eaten their cuisine and enjoyed their differences, it is not surprising that such aberrations take place within our own country leave alone, xenophobia against people from other countries.

I can without hesitation say that I am xenophobic when it comes to Pakistanis and the worst experience that I have had while my travels overeseas was to be mistaken for one in the UK. Since both Pakistanis and Indians come essentially from the same genetic pool, they look the same and it is easy to be mistaken for either by ignorant foreigners. If I felt insulted at being mistaken for a Pakistani, I feel flattered that many Pakistanis, in the UK and other countries name their restaurants as Indian eating places to avoid being mistaken for Pakistani establishments! Although rather dated, this explains that phenomenon.

Very often, xenophobia is confused with or combined with racism and I suspect that this topic was suggested after the recent developments in the USA. Having expounded on xenophobia, let me now address the issue of racism. I have personal experience of racism during my travel and it is not something that one would like to experience ever. We in India too are racist in a way. Since our nation is a mosaic there is a definite preference for fairness and aversion for darkness. The following two ads say enough.

That preference and aversion of colour exists is best explained by the inimitable Mohamed Ali first in a video and then by Robert Mugabe in a statement.


“Racism will never end as long as white cars are still using black tyres.

Racism will never end if people still use black to symbolise bad luck and white for peace.

Racism will never end if people still wear white clothes to weddings and black clothes to funerals.

Racism will never end as long as those who don’t pay their bills are blacklisted not white listed.

Even when playing snooker, you haven’t won until you’ve sunk the black ball, and the white ball must remain on the table!

But I don’t care, as long as I’m still using white toilet paper to wipe my black ass, I’m happy.”

Here again a complete overhaul of our education system to treat White and Black as opposites and different rather than good and bad may perhaps change attitudes sometime in the future.

In the meanwhile, I have serious doubts that we can eliminate both, at least not in my life time.

This is my take on this week’s Friday 6 On 1 blog post topic. The other five bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Sanjana, PadmumRaju, Shackman and Conrad.  This week’s topic was suggested by Sanjana. Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they have to say on the topic. Thank you.

21 thoughts on “Xenophobia.”

  1. Thank you for sharing. I have really struggled this week and I appreciate you sharing your thoughts.

    1. I thank you too for your comments. It was not easy writing the post as the atmosphere all over the world just now is not conducive for dispassionate discussion of the topic.

  2. You know what’s so ludicrous looking at your two advert samples? “Whites” going out to the beach, either local or flying to hot countries, spending a fortnight frying themselves in quest of that so desirable tan. The browner you come back from holiday the more successful and enviable everyone will deem you.

    As to xenophobia, I have encountered little personally (other than at the hands of the Home Office when Theresa May was in charge of same). Turned my life upside down. On a lighter note: The English can’t help themselves, every so often, to make that old joke “Don’t mention the war”. I smile. I don’t ask them to look at the role America and Britain played in THAT war and how it was fed by them. But that’s another subject.

    It’s interesting what you say – and I totally underwrite it – that India, indeed any large mass of land (including Russia and the US) are more like Europe. Not one entity, but many. Borders, not necessarily identity. But then, if you take your idea to the smallest common denominator, one might say that even in a village every family is different to their neighbour’s.

    As to someone being called a “Paki”, that has, here, died some time ago. Or maybe I don’t mix in the “right” circles.

    I will say that I do have bit of a thing with Chinese and Japanese people. Nothing to do with xenophobia, or rascism. I just wish I could READ their faces. I can’t. I just wish they’d smile once in a while. They don’t. Although one of them, I think the Japanese, do smile in that strange trying-to-please type of way, rather than from the heart. You know the worst, Ramana, and it’s awful and I am deeply ashamed of it (maybe touching on your story re mistaken for someone from Pakistan): I can’t even distinguish between the Chinese and the Japanese. It bugs me. Big time. I mean my inability to do so. It’s not their fault. We have a large population of both here, mostly students. But, in order to further my education, I can hardly go up to any of them and ask them: Are you Chinese or Japanese? I might find they are Black Belt. Or carry a sword.

    Main thing to remember is that we are all human. Which doesn’t excuse us from doing terrible things to each other.


    1. I think lots of people find it harder to “read” the faces of people from very different races. Though it might be a small element I would doubt its so much biological as it is about cultural differences in the way facial expressions are used and because faces in our own communities are so much more familiar to us. There have been experiments on this issue which show that people find it harder to distinguish different faces from other races compared to their own.
      In regard to actual head/facial behaviour though ( as opposed to morphology) I think we spot differences MORE quickly. I commented recently to someone about what I would call the Indian “head bobble”. There’s probably a proper name for this which I don’t know. It looks strange to a western eye – that little side to side bob when talking or making a point – and it stands out. I suspect , but I don’t know , that in its own cultural context people barely notice each other using it all that consciously.

  3. I could say a truckload here but I won’t having witnessed first hand among dear friends what xenophobia is and the harm and hurt it can cause of often lives.

    What I will say is that, turning this on its head, I knew many, many USians who would put the Canadian flags on their jackets and knapsacks when traveling abroad. As yes, they knew they were despised (we can list the countries demolished by their governments) and would be treated well if they passed as Canadians.

    I found it offensive in the extreme and would say so.


  4. Your national tension with Pakistan is a troubling subject I am unqualified to comment on except to note that I have seen it for many years. But the quotes from Ali are back to familiar territory and I loved them.

    I have noted that Martin Luther King is often referred to in our current struggle, but Malcolm X is carefully avoided. In some ways, both are selective use of history. Malcolm was a very powerful figure who showed enormous growth as an individual and people ignore that MLK was reviled in America in his time just as Malcolm was feared. Malcolm is the one who brought Ali into awareness of his political power as a spokesman for his people.

    1. As we are discussing this here, the problem is a face off between China and India on our Northern borders. China is doing crazy things all over the world and this is another instance of underestimating a resolute government unlike their previous experiences.

  5. it is often times painful to realize that the regular way you have done things for years is inherently racist. White privilege is real, sadly and I doubt many people are really aware of it. It is so well hidden n- and that is what makes it so bad.

  6. Of course I must be to some extent racist and xenophobic, we who’re white and British absorb such attitudes every day from our friends, family, media, advertising and many other sources. I try to be aware that I’m adopting such attitudes and consciously change them. There aren’t many black or foreign faces in Northern Ireland so I’m not confronted with my prejudices on a daily basis, but I do my best to identify them.

  7. I can’t pleaded guilty to xenophobia. At the same time, as a person of great privilege white skin, I can’t plead innocent to racism. My friends and family are once again examining our speech and thoughts to flush out any way in which we support institutional racism. I can only hope that is the great tragedy in the US which is protested worldwide will serve as a spring board for more and faster change.
    Mother recently posted..Your Day is Here!

  8. My issue would be with Pakistani Culture and the religious aspect rather than Pakistanis per se. I know people sort of own their own culture but I’m a great believer that most people regardless of where they are from or what they believe probably just want to get on with life peacefully. I’m xenophobic about extremism if that’s possible.
    As for racism that obviously cant simply be defined by colour. We can play hair splitting on definitions of race but most people would see Nazi anti-Semitic views to be racist. After lots of discussions on this with people from various places I’ve yet to encounter people whose culture did not harbour a degree of xenophobic and sometimes racist views of some other group. To some extent wariness about “other” is built into our biology. We evolved as a species that probably operated in bands of no more than 100 or so ( think baboons). We’ve outgrown that a bit but wariness of the baboons from different groups is still there. We’ve learned that our baboon troop can do well when it cooperates with other baboon troops and that actually we can even live in each others troops. But when another baboon troop behaves or looks very differently from our own home groups then our tails go up. I think our civilisations have moved us far from these basic instincts but not completely. That is partly because “others” are indeed sometimes a risk to us. It wasn’t so long ago we were all invading and conquering each other.

    1. Very interesting observations Bill and I thank you for returning to my blog after such a long time. The othering process continues internally as well as externally in just about all countries with diverse populations. In India particularly, it is very prevalent due to the reasons that I have listed in my post.

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